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    May 27, 1886

    “Under the Law” The Signs of the Times, 12, 20.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The text which next claims our consideration is Galatians 4:21: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” A complete understanding of the force of this verse can be had only by (1) a knowledge of the peculiar danger of the Galatians, which made the writing of this epistle necessary; (2) an examination of the remainder of the chapter, which involves (3) a brief consideration of the two covenants. As this is all in the line of our study of the law, and will be very useful in our further investigation, we will take time right here to examine these points.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.1

    In the first chapter of Galatians, Paul speaks of his call to the ministry, and his first connection with the church. His call, he says, was not from men, but from God. It was three years after his conversion before he went to Jerusalem, and then the only apostles whom he saw were Peter and James. Therefore he did not receive his knowledge of the gospel from men, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.2

    In the second chapter, Paul states the occasion of his second visit to Jerusalem, which was fourteen years after his first visit. The occasion of this visit was the council which was held in Jerusalem, and which forms the subject of the fifteenth chapter of Acts. Certain men had come down from Judea to Antioch, where Paul was laboring, and had taught the brethren, saying, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Acts 15:1. After much discussion in regard to the matter, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas, and a few others, should go up to Jerusalem to lay the matter before the apostles and elders. That the question which came before this council was the one which was troubling the Galatian brethren, in regard to which they were in danger, appears from the second chapter of Galatians. Paul mentions the visit, but assures the brethren that those who “seemed to be somewhat in conference,” that is, the leading men in the council, “added nothing” to him. The gospel had been made known to him by direct revelation from Jesus Christ, and so he knew the whole truth of the matter before the council convened. Further, he states that after the council, he had a controversy on the very same subject which was there discussed, with Peter, who was acting contrary to the decision of the council. These things show that the danger which threatened the Galatian brethren, and which called out Paul’s epistle to them, was the same thing into which the men from Judea tried to lead all of Paul’s converts. For the Jews constantly followed Paul around, trying to overthrow his work.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.3

    Let us now examine the teaching of these men from Judea. “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Of course all the kindred ordinances of the ceremonial law were included with circumcision. Now why did they want to force circumcision upon these converts from among the Gentiles? The reason given was, in order that they might be saved. Circumcision, they taught, was the one thing indispensable, if they would secure salvation. But the only thing which stands in the way of salvation of all men is sin; and therefore since circumcision was put forth as the condition of salvation, we must conclude that it was urged as a means of justification. But this was directly contrary to the gospel which Paul preached, namely, that justification comes only through Christ. This was indeed “another gospel,” which was no gospel at all.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.4

    That the seditious ones urged circumcision upon the Gentiles as the means of justification, is still further shown by the words of Peter, who said: “Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago, God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:7-9. Peter’s argument was that God purposed to treat the Gentiles who believed just as he did the believing Jews, giving both the Holy Ghost, and purifying them by faith, and not by circumcision or by any other work which they could do.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.5

    Notice particularly the effect which the teaching of these men from Judea must necessarily have had on those who accepted it. It led those who accepted it to reject Christ as the means of justification from sin. If they were justified by circumcision, of course they would have no need of Christ. And this was why that doctrine was taught. These men from Judea did not accept Christ; their sole opposition to the preaching of Paul and the other apostles was that Christ was set forth as the only means of justification and future resurrection. See Acts 4:1, 2. These men from Judea are sometimes styled “Judaizing Christians,” but they were not Christians at all. Their sole work was to oppose the gospel of Christ. And in their hatred of it and of Christ, they went about among the churches, trying to induce the new converts to seek pardon and salvation by circumcision, instead of through Christ. These were the men who were “zealously affecting” the Galatians, with the sole purpose of “excluding” them from the faith of Christ.” Galatians 4:17.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.6

    We have before shown that all who are in sin are “under the law,”-condemned. Then since besides Christ “there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12),-since men are not justified by any works of their own, but solely by faith in Christ,-it follows that all who accepted the teaching of the men from Judea, and were circumcised for justification, were still “under the law.” No amount of work, whether it was circumcision or something else, could clear them from the guilt of past sins. Moreover, those who had accepted Christ, and had been forgiven, if they listened to this teaching fell from grace; for to be circumcised with a view to justification thereby, was simply rejecting Christ and repudiating their former profession. And this is just what Paul told them: “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” Galatians 5:2. Paul did not mean that there was anything wicked in circumcision of itself, for he himself circumcised Timothy, and that, too, after the council at Jerusalem. Acts 16:1-3. Timothy’s father was a Gentile, although his mother was a Jewess, and if Timothy had not been circumcised, he would not have been allowed to labor with Paul among the Jews in their synagogues. Therefore as a matter of expediency, Paul circumcised Timothy, thus showing that whether a man was circumcised or not, was regarded by him as a matter of no vital importance. See 1 Corinthians 7:19. But when men submitted to circumcision as a means of gaining salvation, that moment they rejected Christ, man’s only hope, and therefore Christ profited them nothing, Christ cannot help those who reject him. So we see that it was a grave heresy which was being preached to these young Christians.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.7

    Note again: The heathen religion was a religion of forms and ceremonies. Some of these ceremonies were of the most licentious nature. Now if the converts from among the heathen could only be induced to rest their hope of salvation on Jewish ceremonies, it would be but a step for them to sink back into their old heathen customs. This was actually the effect that it had on the Galatians; for Paul said to them: “Ye observe days, and months, and times [Deuteronomy 18:8-10 tells how the Lord regarded this], and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” Galatians 4:10, 11. Their being circumcised did not lead simply to the substitution of Judaism for Christianity, but to a relapse into heathenism. And thus we see that the Galatians were really going back “under the law,” or, as stated in verse 9, they were turning to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, to which they were desirous of again being in bondage.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.8

    Some may wonder at the expression which Paul uses in verse 21, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law,” etc. Why should Paul charge them with desiring death? For if “under the law” means under sentence of death, he did virtually charge them with desiring death. A parallel passage is found in Proverbs 8:36: “They that hate me love death.” Now while no one would love death itself, so as to deliberately choose it, people do love sin, not realizing that the end thereof is death. So with those to whom Paul speaks. They desired a certain thing which would bring them under the condemnation of the law; and therefore they could be said to desire to be under the law, although they did not realize that such would be the consequences of their choice. W.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.9

    (To be continued.)

    “Dr. Munhall on the Sabbath” The Signs of the Times, 12, 20.

    E. J. Waggoner


    The Doctor seemed nettled because some reporters and doctors had poohed at a statement by him that man is built on a seventh-day plan, so that the Sabbath rest is a demand of his physical nature. We are willing to accept that statement. “The Sabbath was made for man,” and we believe that the Lord made no mistake in the amount of time which he allotted to men for rest. But this is not given in the Bible as a reason for Sabbath observance. The Sabbath was given to man that he might remember God; and the fact that God commanded its observance is sufficient reason why we should keep it. Notice this fact: Nobody ever heard a Sabbath-keeper urge man’s physical necessity as a reason for Sabbath observance; with a Sabbath-keeper, the commandment of God suffices. But the fact that man needs a rest one day in seven is the most prominent reason given for Sunday observance by the advocates of that day. It is the only thing they can urge; but as a Sunday argument it is useless from the fact that God has said nothing about it, and it is applicable to any other day of the week.SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.10

    In behalf of Sunday as the Sabbath, the Doctor simply read Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; and Revelation 1:10, without comment. Since the last mentioned text makes no mention of the first day of the week, and since concerning the other two the Doctor said, “The fact that the disciples met to break bread on the first day of the week is no authority for the sanctification of Sunday,” we may safely say that he does not believe that the Bible anywhere authorizes Sunday observance. In fact, we know that he does not, for he said: “The resurrection of Jesus Christ had no more to do with sanctification of Sunday than did his crucifixion on Friday. Some people think that it did, but there is no ‘Thus saith the Lord for’ it.” Again he said: “There is no ‘Thus saith the Lord’ for keeping the first day of the week, and there is no use and saying there is when there isn’t. The seventh day was hallowed by the Lord, and there has been no transfer.”SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.11

    We would that Dr. Munhall’s hearers remember these words, and then follow his exhortation to “obey God.” But someone may be anxious to know why he keeps Sunday, holding the views that the does. Well, here is his “reason:”-SITI May 27, 1886, page 310.12

    “We find evidence that the disciples did keep the first day, and therefore we keep it; though why they kept it I do not know, for they gave no reason, and there is no ‘Thus saith the Lord’ for it.”SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.1

    The “evidence” that the disciples kept the first day is all found in Acts 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 16:2, which is just no evidence at all. But allowing the Doctor’s claim, that the disciples did keep Sunday, what then? Why, we have been doing something for which they have given no reason, and for which no reason could be given. One of the same disciples charges us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you.” How can we do this if we keep Sunday, since the apostles themselves gave no reason for it, and the Lord never commanded it? The fact that the Lord never commanded Sunday observance, and that the apostles, while exhorting Christians to be able to give a reason for their faith and practice, gave no reason for Sunday observance, should convince anybody that the apostles never kept Sunday.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.2

    In closing, the Doctor said: “I know that I can’t observe the law of the Sabbath on the seventh day.” Well, then, in the name of common sense, how can the law of the Sabbath be observed? That law enjoins the observance of the seventh day of the week, and no other. This law Dr. Munhall proposes to observe by keeping Sunday! And by the same token we propose to celebrate next Fourth of July the first of August. It will be just as easy for us to rest on the Fourth of July on the first of August, as it is for Dr. Munhall to observe the law of the Sabbath on the first day of the week.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.3

    But why cannot the Doctor “observe the law of the Sabbath” on the seventh day, the day which the law of the Sabbath designates? Because “as things are in the world,” it is inconvenient! Is this the same man who half an hour before said: “You have no business to forget; you must not think that every desire is to be gratified at the expense of God’s commandment. If your business will suffer if you keep the Sabbath, let it suffer. Obey God. That is all you have to do. The man who lives up to an honest conviction and does right, must expect to suffer inconvenience”? Yes, it is a very same man who now says that “as things are in this world” he cannot keep the Sabbath. And then in the next breath he urges his hearers “to have a conscience in this matter”!SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.4

    In Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” we read of one Mr. By-ends, one of whose kinsmen was Mr. Facing-both-ways, who earned his money as a waterman, “looking one way and rowing another.” The Saviour described the same class of men when he said: “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’s seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not seek after their works; for they say, and do not.” It was not by accident that Bunyan made Mr. By-ends a relative of Mr. Facing-both-ways; for when a man acknowledges a certain obligation, and then says that circumstances will not allow him to regard it, he faces both ways, and advertises himself as a man who has ends of his own to serve.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.5

    We might sum up Dr. Munhall’s discourse as follows:-SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.6

    1. The law of the Sabbath was given at creation, and simply reaffirmed at Sinai.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.7

    2. The seventh day of the week, and no other, is the Sabbath.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.8

    3. The Sabbath is a memorial of creation, and was given that men might remember God.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.9

    4. Those people and nations that disregard the Sabbath will have to suffer disastrous consequences.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.10

    5. No man has any business to forget the Sabbath, or to allow business or pleasure to interfere with his observance of it. God requires us to obey him whether it is convenient or not.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.11

    6. The first day of the week is not the Sabbath, and there is no use in saying that it is. God rested upon and sanctified only the seventh day, and no transfer has ever been made. There is no “Thus saith the Lord” for the observance of Sunday. God never required it.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.12

    This is good Bible doctrine: whenever the Doctor preaches such doctrine, we shall be glad to assist him in his work by giving it wide circulation. And in connection with the above, we hope no one will fail to remember Dr. Munhall’s only “reason” for keeping Sunday. It is this:-SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.13

    “I believe that the apostles kept Sunday, though I don’t know of any reason why they did so. The seventh day of the week is the Sabbath, but it isn’t convenient to keep it.”SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.14

    In conclusion, we would urge our readers to heed the Doctor’s exhortation to “have a conscience in this matter.” W.SITI May 27, 1886, page 311.15

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